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Last week saw thousands of students getting their A level results. Whilst the headlines focused on the fall in top A and A* grades awarded (down only 0.3%) this will no doubt have been a stressful time for those involved (and no doubt their parents).

For many the question will have been whether or not they got the necessary grades to move on to the next stage of their education, namely University. However, over the past few years the number of students applying to university has dropped, largely as a result of the introduction of the higher level of tuition fees which for many has proved a barrier to continuing into further education.

This has not gone un-noticed in the business world where large companies have either moved their focus from graduate recruitment to recruitment focused at school leavers, or have set up departments dealing with school leaver recruitment. Speaking to someone involved in recruitment I was told that this had come about as a result of businesses believing they could miss out on a “lost generation” if they kept their focus solely on graduate recruitment.

The Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce has recently introduced a legal apprenticeship programme which provides an alternative route into the legal profession. Up to 80 Apprenticeships are on offer from leadingNorth West law firms offering a fast-track route for school leavers to work in the legal profession and are a credible alternative to university as students can earn a starting salary of £12,000 per annum whilst they train for a career in the law.

To date, a number of Apprenticeships have been made available to school leavers who will study part-time at Manchester Law School, part of Manchester Metropolitan University. Within 18 months students will have reached foundation degree level.

This programme is the first of its kind and is designed to train school leavers to perform everyday legal tasks to meet the demand for value legal services in a rapidly evolving market and enables young people to train without incurring huge tuition fees and allows those who cannot afford to go to university to consider a career in the law.

So is university no longer the be all and end all?